Side Trips in Alaska

Innersea Discoveries Cruises “Un-Cruise”

“Exploring & Touching Blue Ice”

Cool blue rays radiated through odd shaped icebergs as they drifted aimlessly throughout LeConte Bay in Southeast Alaska. As our outboard powered inflatable boat approached the massive iceberg flotilla, each iceberg or “Bergy Bit” had their own unique, one-of-a-kind personality. Some chunks of blue ice looked like giant birds while others looked like sea monsters or ice ships piloted by blue ghosts.

LeConteBay3Imaginations run wild at LeConte Bay, the most southern tidewater glacier along the Pacific Coast. In 1887 John Muir asked Charles Thomas, U.S. Navy Lieutenant-Commander, to name LeConte Glacier in honor of Muir’s friend, Joseph LeConte, a noted California geologist at the University of California at Berkeley. LeConte Glacier provides a unique habitat for harbor seals in the area. These big eyed, baby-faced seals sun themselves on icebergs and use the bay as a breeding, birthing and rearing area. Sometimes dozens of seals can be seen atop these blue icebergs trying to warm themselves on the ice – one of Alaska nature’s unique juxtapositions.

In 1995 LeConte Glacier retreated half a mile in just five months. In 1998 LeConte Glacier retreated nearly one mile farther, making LeConte Glacier one of the fastest retreating glaciers in the world. Kevin, our guide from Innersea Discoveries Cruises piloted the inflatable through the iceberg maze, and aimed toward a massive blue ice curtain with backlit caves. As we approached the curtain of blue ice the sound of bacon frying echoed around the boat.

LeConteBay5“The crackling sounds like Rice Krispies popping in a bowl of milk,” explained Kevin. “When snowflakes fell up to five hundred
years ago the pressure from years of snow trapped small air pockets in the ice. As the ice melts in the bay the air escapes and makes
crackling noises.”

LeConteBay7Constant pressure on glaciers causes them to slip and slide their way downhill grinding granite into flour which turns the bay into a combination of emerald and ivory color. LeConte Glacier calves spectacularly into saltwater leaving just 10 percent of the icebergs or less above water. Some of the icebergs run aground on sand bars created by glacial silt. Chunks of blue ice calve off the icebergs as they melt. These smaller chunks are commonly called “Bergy Bits” and float around like giant ice cubes in punch bowl.

LeConteBay6Our “Un-Cruise” with Innersea Discoveries Cruises put us up and close and personal to LeConte Fjord. So close we reached out and touched the blue ice and brought ice chunks back to the yacht to use in our assortment of mixed drinks and soda beverages. After admiring an overhanging ice chunk we motored away and heard it crash into the water. Luckily our guides kept us at safe distances but close enough to hear and touch smaller bergy bits and beached ice chunks. Without question this blue ice tour was one of our cruise trip highlights. Most Southeast Alaska cruises go from port to port with shopping a main priority. Innersea Discoveries Cruises begins and ends their 7-day cruises in a major Alaskan Port but spends the rest of the cruise exploring wilderness Alaska. During a typical Innersea Disoveries Cruise guests have the choice of kayaking quiet, flat water bays and inlets, hiking wilderness Alaska, walking on glaciers or experiencing blue ice like we did. Each night the small ship anchors in a remote cove surrounded by wilderness, wildlife and “Alaska Quiet.”

Cruises aboard Innersea Discoveries are affordable and start at $1,795 per person for a 7-day cruise. This price includes kayak trips, hiking, skiff tours, meals, soft drinks, and knowledgeable guides. If you have ever wanted a more adventurous Alaska vacation, this cruise company will fit the bill and put you so close to Alaska you can touch it, smell it, taste it, hear it and surround yourself in wilderness Alaska.

For more information about Innersea Discoveries Cruises call them at: 1-877-901-1009

About John L. Beath

John Beath is a writer, photographer, videographer, blogger, tackle manufacturer & Captain at Whaler's Cove Lodge in Southeast Alaska. He is also owner of and host at Lets Talk Outdoors @
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